ARTICLE | YOUR EGO IS NOT YOUR AMIGO | by Orjan Pettersen
Krav Maga is about staying safe and walking in peace. Violence is the ultimate solution only, if other options are unavailable. Self defence operates on many levels. The physical level, with high risk and future implications, is the last resort.
This means last resort self defence not just about counter-attacking. It’s also about about influencing the aggressor’s mind when faced with potential violence.
To do this you cannot achieve an effect on the opponent’s thinking without first controlling your own.
De-escalation is about influencing the potential threat in terms of seeing the situation you’re both in differently; re-evaluating the emotion behind the potential upcoming attack and the sosial context it is happening in.
Stopping a (social violence) conflict from escalating into violence should be a key skill in your Krav Maga or self defence arsenal.
Firstly, this is not cowardice.
The nature of violence is that it threatens life and limbs. People can, and sometimes die, sometimes unintentionally.
Even if death or serious injury doesn’t occur, the implications beyond the physical fight can be considerable.
If arrested and prosecuted, months may lie ahead with a legal process taking place and the consequences, whether sentencing, law suits or impact on relationships, finances, families or careers, can be permanent.
Is this really worth the momentary satisfaction of ‘winning’ a monkey-dance with a stranger you may never, ever even see again?
The motivator of most social violence is ego. As the title states, your ego is not your amigo.
The ego is particularly heightened in front of others, and in younger males particularly in front of similar-aged females. Alcohol acts as an inhibitor to logical thought and the consequences and ramifications of violence. Hence the particular predominance of violence in drinking establishments frequented by younger demographics.
As a skilled practitioner of self defence, you carry a particular responsibility to display the thinking you’ve learned during your training. You should be more capable to read, analyse and de-escalate any situation than the average person. If you’re not, why or what have you been training?
If so, hold yourself more accountable, too. Do you really need to have the last word or be the victor? Or is it sufficient for you to know your own capabilities and keeping these in a controlled, but high readiness?
To de-escalate demands a level of skill from you. It’s a psychological play that you need to do calmly, but in a commanding and controlled way.
The social context that has driven the antagonist towards you must be understood. Is it simply a bully who is facing you? Maybe someone whose ego is hurt? Are they angry or fearful and that is driving the confrontation? Whatever the reason, you can de-escalate whilst still maintaining authority and confidence, it’s not a game of real or acted weakness on your part.
To effectively de-escalate, there are a number of ground rules that you should apply.
Firstly, the basis of your demeanour must be clear.
Remain calm. Be receptive to what’s being said to you and state that you’re listening. Don’t swear or escalate tension with your verbal responses. Speak more slowly and with a lower voice. Use shorter words and sentences and be clear with what you say, especially if the other person is intoxicated. Move slowly and don’t make sudden movements. Don’t touch the other person or move towards them. The overall intent from you is to lower the stimuli that is causing the emotion to escalate.
Secondly, understand the social context the confrontation is happening within.
Did you simply and inadvertently affect their pride and ego, maybe by bumping into them or saying something that was perceived wrongly? If so, simply apologise and say you’re sorry. It’s not worth escalating a minor incident of no significance, considering the risks down the line.
Don’t escalate the context you’re in by making the issue personal. Don’t insult the ego further. It’s better to say ‘Please don’t get closer to me’ than stating ‘Not a step further, you f****** creep”. Be firm in presence and language, but don’t incite the antagonist’s ego any more than it already is. This is particularly important in a social context where the person in front of you is joined by a peer-group - and especially with younger males in the presence of females. They will find it extraordinarily difficult in backing down.
Look for a way out. As already stated, men can be particularly dangerous if they look humiliated in front of females or friends.
Apologise wherever possible. ‘I’m really sorry that I cut in front of you, I didn’t realise and I apologise’ gives the other person a context to bow out rather than saying something like ‘Get lost, you’re wrong and you don’t know what you’re talking about’.
You must be able to lower tension and give the antagonist an excuse to leave with some honour. Replace the drink you spilled by bumping into someone. Say ‘If we fought, you’ll win hands down, let me buy you a round instead’.
In the end, be the humble combatant. It’s the clever way, whether legally, medically or psychologically in the longer game that’s your life.
As you remove yourself from the situation, stay alert to the antagonist and any parties associated with him or her. Move away in angular fashion so your peripheral vision permits you to retain a view of what you need to observe. Don’t simply turn your back.
Do you need to stay on the premises or is it better to go somewhere else? Even if the situation was resolved at the time, anger may linger and with further intoxication (and inhibition removed) may resurface gain. Consider your options.
Most social violence is often very visible, predictable and avoided by logical thinking, humility and clever action. This is your responsibility as a ‘walk in peace’ Krav Maga practitioner. It’s also the smart thing to do.
The ego is not your amigo. Your trained body, led by your trained mind is what you rely on.
Now, with your training, can you trust yourself? If ‘Yes’, you’re more rounded and ready. If ‘No’, it may be time to add deescalation as another element into your regime on how to stay safe.